Foals Fitzgerald's April 19, 2011
Just minutes after Fitzgerald's opened its doors for last night's Foals show, tickets were gone. The sold-out venue was packed before second opener Freelance Whales even hit the stage, and it's no wonder - Oxford quintet Foals, fresh off a performance at last week's Coachella, are riding a buzz-worthy wave strengthened by their sophomore album, last year's Total Life Forever.
The crowd was Foals-crazy from the second the band walked onstage, recognizing most songs within their opening notes. Foals opened with TLF track "Blue Blood;" front man Yannis Philippakis aired an instantly infectious aura, though it could have been solely thanks to his hair, an unruly mix that flowed into his thick beard.
"How's it going?" he asked the crowd, which was evidently enough to produce a collective swoon of support.
We liked the air of Foals from the get-go; they appeared unassuming, unpretentious - dirty, even - like a touring rock band should look. They were coolly apathetic, yet not bored-looking; confident yet not pompous.
TLF's title track, a danceable, exultant tune that kind-of-sort-of lifts its lyrics from the Lemonheads' "Into Your Arms," was destined to be a set highlight; unfortunately, it was during this song that a fight erupted in the crowd. What we first deemed as an impromptu mosh-pit became painfully clear as a full-out brawl, many in the crowd seemingly attempting to disarm one violent patron in particular.
Considering the lack of security at the front of the venue, it was a few minutes before any security even realized what was going on. Eventually, this ridiculous long-lost member of the Sharks was forcefully escorted out. The event unfortunately put a damper on the evening, though Foals didn't seem to even realize anything had happened.
As we slowly shook off the fight fright, Foals continued with their set, an equal representation of their two-EP discography. The band's 2008 debut Antidotes was revisited with songs like "Olympic Airways" and "Balloons," while TLF was frequented with "Miami," "After Glow," and perhaps our favorite song of the evening, "Spanish Sahara," a song that starts slow and stripped, yet builds into a progressive hard-rocking jam session. The TLF tracks were overall stronger than their predecessors, more ambient and less funk-based.
Foals' sound is somewhat hard to peg, as they touch an array of genres, from dance-pop a la Bloc Party and Passion Pit, to punk, to psychedelia. Many of their songs stretch into long psych-rock jams, though their accompanying bass lines remain funk-laden. Again, hard to peg.
But Foals are a young band, ranging from just 23 to 26 years of age; their sophomore album alone has already proven their ability to polish and progress and, in our opinion, improve.
However decent TLF may be, it doesn't compare to Foals' live show, which became obvious toward the set's end, as the so-far pokerfaced band showed their raucous sides: During "Red Socks Pugie," Philippakis suddenly hurled himself into the audience, crowd-surfing with his guitar still strapped across his chest.
Like all good things worth repeating, he did this twice. Not to be outdone by his bandmate, guitarist Jimmy Smith plowed his guitar into his amp, coming dangerously close to smacking the front row's wide-eyed spectators square on their heads.
An Antidote-exclusive encore closed out the set, as a suddenly rowdier Philippakis hurled bottles of water into the audience - and even into the balcony. The Foals front man clearly prefers actions over words, but when he talks, it's both genuine and to-the-point.
"Thank you," he said, as they band left the stage. "It's been a fucking pleasure."
Personal Bias: Less funk, more everything else. Especially stage-diving and amp-smashing.
The Crowd: Both Freelance Whales and Foals fans. Merch-booth frequenters. A few stoners who couldn't wait a few hours to officially begin 4/20. And one party-pooper.
Overheard In the Crowd: A few British accents and knife-fight gossip.
(Very) Random Notebook Dump: Foals' frontman is Jason Schwartzman meets Jason Gould's character in Say Anything. (You remember, the guy who passed out in the bathroom and couldn't find his house? A.K.A. Barbra Streisand's son?)
Blue Blood Olympic Airways Total Life Forever Balloons Miami After Glow Black Gold 2 Trees Spanish Sahara Red Socks Pugie Electric Bloom
The French Open Cassius Two Steps, Twice
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